ASTHO, Lead For America Launch Public Health Equity Corps

June 01, 2021

DODGE CITY, KS—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and Lead For America (LFA) announced today the creation of a new program for young leaders to help bolster our nation’s public health infrastructure and build healthy and resilient communities. The program, Public Health Equity Corps, will aim to strengthen state health agency efforts with a particular immediate focus on equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The Public Health Equity Corps, led in conjunction with LFA’s national fellowship program and supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will select eight fellows for a two-year, full-time fellowship. Fellows will be immersed in real-life public health challenges and work alongside community leaders (e.g., government, health, advocacy groups, community) to tackle them head on.

The effort will span across eight states, to include Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming. Each fellow will work on projects of critical importance to the host department, from supporting equitable vaccine distribution to underserved populations in Wyoming, to amplifying community engagement practices in North Carolina, and strengthening every state's ability to equitably serve all residents.

“Young people have a critical role to play—both in supporting the immediate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and in setting up their communities for long-term public health resiliency,” says Joe Nail, chief executive officer of Lead For America. "We are honored to be partnering with ASTHO in deploying a cohort of outstanding fellows to their home state health departments. Through our National Hometown Fellowship, fellows will have access to top-notch training on community development and public health, and will join a national network of leaders working to address the critical challenges of our time.”

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of leadership, and the importance of community engagement,” says ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser. “These fellows will complement existing public health assets in states and help build a group of young leaders to take public health to the next level in future efforts.”


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.

Lead for America is a national nonprofit that helps outstanding young people become civic leaders. LFA seeks to direct homegrown talent where it’s needed most—in towns and counties where challenges outpace resources available—often in rural and under-resourced communities. Through their flagship two-year paid Fellows program, LFA has funded and placed over 100 Fellows in over 80 communities and 30 states in newly created positions in their home communities since 2019, and plan to have 100 additional Fellows starting in 2021. Combined, LFA Fellows have leveraged more than $17 million for their communities and impacted the lives of more than 13.5 million people. Lead For America's national headquarters is located in Dodge City, Kansas.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit